This year will be the year of client retention, as opposed to client acquisition.
There is a lot of underlying anxiety lurking behind the closed doors of businesses across the country. Pick your favourite nail-biter: the upcoming May federal election, our tanking property market, low growth and the banking royal commission fallout. There are more tension triggers than choices on your local pizzeria’s blackboard.
But what does it mean for business development, sales growth and growing revenue?
The focus should now be on client retention as much as attraction. Whatever your industry, larger firms will be slumming it in smaller markets and faster, nimble, smaller companies will be released from plankton status, moving up the food chain to tackle larger opportunities. The old barriers are fading or already gone.
Many sales strategies are still focused on acquisition because it’s sexy, wins feed egos and the sales DNA is attuned to the conquest. Client retention is often discussed later in the meeting, after the coffee has gone cold and there’s just a half of a croissant left on the boardroom table. Often, it’s an afterthought with a throwaway, pithy line such as: ‘And, naturally, we’ll see some organic growth with our customer service efforts leading the way.’
Your clients are under attack, not just from cyber security, but from competitors you may not have even considered.
Here are three things you can do to focus on retaining key clients.
As in marriage, we get comfy and often take our partners for granted. Rekindle your ‘romance’ with your client, not with dinners and gifts (see probity) but with new experts, fresh ideas and joint innovation sessions. Or, get your chief executive out of their boardroom and into the client’s favourite coffee shop.
Margins creep up, service delivery requirements change and client decision-makers change, so why wait another 12 months before the contract is up. Find ways to re-sign them for another three years now.
Broaden your reach within your accounts
Despite all the account planning templates in the world, there are generally massive black holes in the section marked ‘contacts’.
Instead of just liaising with your known buddy, reach out to legal, marketing, IT or the C-suite to deepen the connection and understanding of what you do for them.
We don’t know how 2019 will unfold, but focusing on retention will place you and your clients in the strongest possible position to weather the impending storm clouds on the horizon.